US pres­i­dent also trans­fers Heather Nauert from state depart­ment to UN

The Irish Times - - Front Page -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has nom­i­nated Wil­liam Barr to be­come the next at­tor­ney gen­eral, as one of many staff changes:

US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump nom­i­nated Wil­liam Barr to be­come the next at­tor­ney gen­eral in place of Jeff Ses­sions, one of a se­ries of per­son­nel changes an­nounced yesterday. He has also se­lected state depart­ment spokes­woman and for­mer Fox News pre­sen­ter Heather Nauert to re­place Nikki Haley as UN am­bas­sador.

The an­nounce­ments were made by Mr Trump as he left Wash­ing­ton for Kansas City amid ru­mours that John Kelly is pre­par­ing to step down as White House chief of staff. CNN re­ported that Mr Kelly had been in­ter­viewed by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller as part of his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion or ob­struc­tion of jus­tice by Mr Trump.

Ms Nauert (48) joined the state depart­ment last year with­out any for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence, al­though she had a long ca­reer in me­dia. She has worked for news net­work ABC as well as Fox News which she joined in 1996. Be­fore her ap­point­ment by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion she was a co-host on break­fast TV show Fox and Friends, one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s favourite shows.

Ms Haley an­nounced in Oc­to­ber she would be step­ping down as UN am­bas­sador by the end of the year, a sur­prise move by the for­mer South Carolina gover­nor. She is widely per­ceived as hav­ing per­formed well in the job, though her bid to se­cure a UN res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Ha­mas failed on Thurs­day at the UN in New York.

Mr Trump de­scribed Ms Nauert as “very tal­ented, very smart, very quick and I think she will be re­spected by all”.


But in a sign that the in­com­ing UN am­bas­sador may not have the same sta­tus as Ms Haley, a White House of­fi­cial said the po­si­tion may be down­graded and no longer be a cab­i­net-level post. Mr Trump and sec­re­tary of state Mike Pom­peo have been fre­quent crit­ics of the UN and other mul­ti­lat­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions, crit­i­cis­ing in par­tic­u­lar what they claim is anti-Is­rael bias within the UN.

Ms Nauert and Mr Barr will have to be con­firmed by the US Se­nate.

The post of at­tor­ney gen­eral has been va­cant since Mr Trump fired Jeff Ses­sions the day af­ter the midterm elec­tions. Mr Ses­sions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whi­taker, has been act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Mr Barr is well known in Repub­li­can cir­cles. This will be the sec­ond time he will serve as at­tor­ney gen­eral – he was the na­tion’s top jus­tice of­fi­cial un­der Ge­orge HW Bush be­tween 1991 and 1993.

Though his ap­point­ment is likely to be wel­comed by Repub­li­cans, Barr has pre­vi­ously raised ques­tions about the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The 68year-old lawyer, who worked along­side Mr Mueller at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice when he was first at­tor­ney gen­eral,

‘‘ Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Con­flicts of In­ter­est,’ Don­ald Trump tweeted

has pub­licly de­fended Mr Trump’s right to fire James Comey, cit­ing the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor’s han­dling of the Hil­lary Clin­ton email scan­dal.

Mr Trump also hit out at his for­mer sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son on Twit­ter af­ter the for­mer Exxon Mo­bil chief – who was fired ear­lier this year – sug­gested at a con­fer­ence that Mr Trump had tried to act against the law while he served as the pres­i­dent’s top for­eign pol­icy of­fi­cial.

“Tiller­son didn’t have the mental ca­pac­ity needed,” said Mr Trump of his for­mer sec­re­tary of state. “He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell.”

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